After a year of increasing retail thefts across the San Francisco Bay Area, thieves are becoming more brazen as they unleash ‘flash mob’ lootings at high-end retail stores. Criminal gangs have also begun to target marijuana businesses.
According to the nonprofit group Supernova Women, criminal gangs targeted at least 15 licensed cannabis businesses in November, “vandalizing stores and offices, and stealing products worth millions of dollars.”
Cannabis companies impacted by the spate of robberies are requesting state and local government agencies for financial help.
“All types of licensed cannabis business were impacted: cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail (delivery and storefronts). Cumulatively, these small and mostly Equity-licensed businesses are now faced with over $5 million in losses,” said Supernova Women.
One businesses owner told MJBizDaily that he “knows of 25 or so businesses that got hit” by smash and grab robberies last month.
“I know 25 or so businesses that got hit … and out of all those, the percentage I know that told me that they may not be able to reopen is about 50%,” said Tucky Blunt, the owner of Oakland cannabis shop Blunts and Moore. He said his shop was one of those robbed, adding that gangs believe marijuana businesses are sitting on boatloads of cash.
“People think we’re sitting on millions and millions of dollars,” Blunt said. “We don’t have that.
Others say that the spat of robberies could spell financial trouble for impacted pot shops.
“Any loss, any blow, is a death blow potentially at this point,” said Nara Dahlbacka, a California consultant who works with several cannabis companies. “There are a lot of businesses that are on the edge right now.”
“A lot of these folks are not open and won’t be open for a while, because they can’t bounce back from these things,” said Amber Senter, the co-founder and chair of Oakland nonprofit Supernova Women. She said many of the targeted small pot shops don’t have a lot of extra capital, plus adding insurance coverage is nearly impossible.
To prevent criminals from believing all pot shops are cash-heavy companies, the passage of the federal SAFE Banking Act would allow a legitimate cannabis-related business to store their funds and use financial lifelines with banks.
Blunt said that if the SAFE Act were to become law, robberies would plunge “tenfold or cut it at least 30%.”
As for now, the Bay Area’s downtown businesses district has transformed into a ghost town as retail shops of all kinds are fortifying their doors and windows with plywood to prevent an epidemic of flash mob robberies.
The spate of robberies merely reflects how the criminal justice system doesn’t work under progressive rule. Their policies to lower penalties for shoplifting have royally backfired.